Nothing. But for the grace of God, nothing.
I have been encouraged—excited, really—to watch the well-crafted exposure of Planned Parenthood's practices through a series of undercover videos released via trickle-strategy this past month. I know some have been shocked and some have wanted to drown out the noise (or talk about Cecil the Lion instead), but I’m encouraged because I am part of the faction who prays that the 57 million babies we have aborted in America will one day be a human rights travesty we can’t believe we sat by and allowed. While Planned Parenthood does more than provide abortions, their provision of abortions is heartbreaking and infuriating to those of us who believe that abortion is sin in its ruthless desecration of the dignity of life given by our Creator. Many have written articulately on the moral, ethical, legal and cultural particulars of the issue with Planned Parenthood’s practices. But I’m not here to add to those voices.
I just can’t stop thinking about the mothers of these aborted babies.
As this conversation roars through whatever medias will cover it, especially the social media I imagine these women listening to, I just wonder how they feel. One of these mothers at least, has spoken out and I’m thankful for her contribution as she writes about the gospel’s availability to fellow mothers who have aborted their children. But I think it’s really important for those of us who have not had abortions to also deliberately offer the grace of Jesus to those who have, even in the midst of the rightful gnashing of teeth over abortion itself. Not because these mothers need his grace more than we do, but specifically because they don’t.
Condemning One Another with Condescending Grace
Many of us who “would never” abort a baby intend to extend grace to you who have, but often, in considering ourselves as those “who would never do that” our condescending grace actually condemns you in a particularly hurtful way. While we say the grace of Jesus can cover your sin, we often say it in a way that makes you seem like you are the only one who really needs this grace. But guess what? The grace we extend to you isn’t ours to give apart from having received it in equal measure ourselves. The condescending grace we offer those whose sin we (maybe unconsciously) consider worse than our own sin is pharisaical at best, and deserving of hell in reality. It’s not indicative of God’s reality of grace toward unworthy sinners who “all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God,” (Rom 3:23), but places the mothers guilty of abortion in a category of “other.” Lord, have mercy on us.
Bearing with One Another in Shared Unworthiness
As a mother who has never aborted my child, if you are a mother who has, we are no different. Maybe I know you, maybe I don’t, but the suffering that you perhaps have and will endure makes me want to weep with you. The sin nature in me is the exact same as the sin nature in you. God has decreed and ordained the details of my life just as he has yours. Why he allowed abortion into your story and not mine is quite literally beyond me, but it’s certainly no credit to my character that I have not aborted a child. Rather, it’s a credit to his grace in my life. And he has grace for you, too—grace that aligns perfectly and abundantly with your past and present to bring you to himself.
We are no different. We both may have sin, but we both get to revel in the goodness of a beautiful Savior who covers our sin and helps us unto heaven. The sin in my past is different than yours, but it’s not better or worse, not when compared with the holiness of a perfect God. And that’s whom we are comparing ourselves to, remember. Not to one another, but to Jesus. And when I stand with you and look at his perfection, we are on the same footing, sister. Sinners bearing with one another, spurring one another on toward Christ and doing the best we can to love one another in shared unworthiness of his love.
Dorsey Swindall is a biblical counselor with One-Eighty Counseling and Education in Louisville, Kentucky. She and her husband have two children.